Thursday, December 29, 2011

zoe francois & jeff hertzberg's basic french boule

When I was visiting my parents last week, my mother and I got into a conversation about bread. More specifically, about the lack of good bread available to my mother in La Jolla. It sounds kind of like a dubious problem to have- like, how important can bread really be?

But if you love bread, you know the the chasm that separates good bread from bad. Good bread is deeply satisfying; bad bread is just depressing.

I can get pretty good bread in San Francisco. I say "pretty good" because even though there are great bakeries here (Acme, Tartine, etc.) none of them are within close walking distance of my apartment, and as a result, I rarely visit them. Acme bread is now sold widely in grocery stores, but you aren't getting it fresh out of the oven the way you do at bakeries in Paris. There are few things more enjoyable than walking into a bakery, buying a baguette hot from the oven, and then immediately tearing off the end to eat. I miss that about Paris all the time. With that thought in mind, I decided that it was time to take action.

Armed with Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I set out to make a basic French boule. After fretting over the whether or not the dough was rising enough and worrying about  the general wetness of the dough (too wet? too dry??), I eventually stuck the damn thing in the oven and crossed my fingers. And...


Pretty, no? It was a bit dense (I'll use a bit more water next time, since I used bread flour, which is higher in protein than the all-purpose flour the recipe recommended) but over all, not bad. Not bad at all. I can't wait to continue experimenting. The recipe is great in that it has you make enough dough for four loaves (or two, because I halved it) and then store the dough for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Bread on demand! It almost feels like Paris.

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